Interviews with John Kostecki, Skipper of race leader illbruck, and Knut Frostad, Skipper of djuice.
Q: How prepared are you?
A: The boats are ready to go now. The shore crew did an excellent job this last week, putting the final bits and pieces together. Fortunately, the sailing team had some time off, so we're well rested and relaxed and we're ready to go.
Q: Many changes to the set-up of the boat for this leg?
A: Not much at all. Everything is basically the same on the boat. And unless we are having somebody getting sick, we're going to go with the same crew as well, so we're going with the same program.
Q: Was there any thought that Ian Moore might be part of the twelve for this leg?
A: No, we're looking at having two navigators for the short legs that just fits better with our watch system. And on these longer legs, we're just going with one navigator.
Q: Well, the one navigator is playing a bit of a blinder at the moment. He really has impressed from where we we've been watching. What is he actually like to work with?
A: Oh, Juan's great. He's very easy-going, very open-minded and we have a great team around him, supporting him. Especially in our meteorology Chris Bedford who helps us prepare for each leg. Chris doesn't get much recognition, but deserves a lot, because he plans a lot of the different scenarios we are going to encounter in our heads, so we are well prepared.
Q: Just looking quickly at the other boats: Assa Abloy. Mike Howard has joined, a guy I guess you probably know pretty well. What is he likely to bring to the party?
A: Mike was involved with America One, our last America's Cup effort. Great sailor. Well, he brings a lot of strength; he is a very strong individual, but also a great attitude. He is a very positive person, uplifting and I think he will be a huge strength to their team.
Q: The next leg is into the USA, your home. How important would it be as an American skipper to take your boat in first into Miami?
A: I don't really look at it any differently than any other leg, whether we are going to the States or to South Africa, Australia or New Zealand or Brazil. So it's another leg that we're fighting seven other competitors and we hope to be in there as one of the top boats.
Q: Now, a question I've been asking one or two people: Are you enjoying the race at the moment?
A: (Hesitatingly) Yes, I enjoyed leg one. I didn't really enjoy the stopover of leg one in Cape Town, because we had the protest situation. Leg two was tough with the sinking situation and then going straight into the Southern Ocean. But even on from leg two, I enjoyed it immensely. We had some good racing and some close racing and that's what I really enjoy the most.
Q: It's interesting, that seems to be the reaction of everyone else. Talking to Mark Rudiger, he's been saying that that has been really the joy of this particular Volvo Ocean Race - the fact that the boats are close.
A: That's why I'm doing it, really. I like close racing and I come from the one design background where it's all close. It's been close and I'm sure it's going to continue to be close, so I'm looking forward to the rest.
Q: Obviously, we can't talk about tactics for the next race, but is there anything special you are looking to do in the next leg?
A: It's a different type of leg than we were having the last two. It is more similar to a portion of leg one, crossing the tropics and the equator. We are preparing slightly different, trying to educate the whole crew in the different type of scenarios we're going to have so everybody is on the same page and keeps the boat going faster in all the different conditions we are going to encounter.
Q: Yes, the doldrums is about as different from the Southern Ocean as you can get…
A: Very different. But the two times that I've gone through, we had decent enough wind to get through quickly, so hopefully that'll be the case this time.
Q: There have been several crew changes onboard, why is that?
A: We had a few changes. The best thing is that my watch captain Espen Guttormsen came back on the boat after he had an injury in Auckland. We have two French guys on board one of whom is going to stay with us until the end of the race, which is very good, and we have one Australian leaving. The fact that he is leaving was something both him and us wanted, so it was a good change and I'm pretty happy with that. For the future, the people I have on board now is really the crew I dreamed about having. So I'm very happy about it- it's the best guys that I wanted to have on board. It's really hard in this race to get the people you want, because there is a lack of professional top-level sailors, but we managed now to find the people we wanted to have and that's very good.
Q: Big French influence there now…
A: It's quite a big French influence. It might be because I am a European myself and I used to race for a French team. I'm very happy with the French, they probably are the best offshore sailors these days and they are in the forefront in multihull sailing and most single-hand sailing and have a good number of very professional, very good offshore sailors. The French are very experienced, especially with the Atlantic and so there is lot of advantage in having them.
Q: You mentioned Spike Dorian leaving and said it was a mutual decision?
A: Yes, it was something we were both happy with. So there are no bad feelings about that.
Q: Will conditions suit you on your boat on the next leg?
A: I think so. I mean, we certainly proved on this leg that our light air speed is very good and really second to none. In light air, we feel pretty good about our speed and we've been working very hard on improving our weaknesses with reaching, and we did absolutely everything we could to improve that and I am very anxious to see that it's going to make some good improvements for us.